Student leaders raise concern over potential consolidation of University safe spaces

Update, Thursday, 4:51 pm: Reventon Latino chair and member of the Latin Leadership Forum Nancy Hinojos (SFS ’15) has expressed similar concern that the University is considering the consolidation of the CMEA, the LGBTQ Center, and the Women’s Center. “I think that there’s a risk in doing so because depth might be lost in this very important work,” she said. “Moreover, I also wouldn’t want it to be compiled to such an extent that it becomes the “other” office.”

Original Post: In recent weeks, the University administration has been holding discussions about the possible consolidation of three resource centers: the Women’s Center, the LGBTQ Resource Center, and the Center for Multicultural Equity and Access (CMEA), according to GUSA Undersecretary of Gender Affairs Mariel Jorgensen (COL ’16). This idea, if enacted, would combine these groups into a single “diversity” center.

Although Associate Dean Dennis Williams wrote in an email to Vox that there is currently no formal plan for consolidation in place, many student leaders have preemptively voiced their opposition to a potential aggregate center.

“The details of the proposal are indeed unclear,” Williams wrote. “There is no proposal, and we welcome comments and suggestions from the community.”

In an email to Vox, Jorgensen wrote that, while intersectionality is invaluable, there is even more value in an individual’s access to safe spaces that support their personal identity.

“An aggregate center would be less able to understand and perform the sensitive work done by current centers which are more intimately familiar with the specific needs of the students who reach out to them,” Jorgensen wrote. “In any case, intersectionality is not served through the consolidation of marginalized groups under one ‘other’ umbrella, but rather through open communication and cooperation between existing centers and students of different identities.”

GU Pride President Thomas Lloyd (SFS ’15) told Vox that, as the most frequent collaborator with the LGBTQ Resource Center, his organization does not want the administration to undermine its historic mission.

“To this day, the LGBTQ Resource Center is among the only such institutions at a Catholic school,” Lloyd wrote in an email to Vox. “The center being a stand alone institution sends a message to our fellow Jesuit schools that Georgetown does not just have an obligation to some vague notion of ‘diversity’ but explicitly to our LGBTQ students.”

Lexi Dever (COL ’16), GUSA’s undersecretary of LGBTQ affairs, echoed Lloyd’s sentiments in an email to Vox. Dever believes that these individual centers provide the necessary focus on and support for aspects of a student’s identity that are often neglected in the mainstream Georgetown community.

“Yes, a more general ‘diversity’ center can have LGBTQ programming of equal value to that of the current LGBTQ Resource Center, but its role as a community center, in which a queer student can walk in and talk to other queer students about queer-specific issues, be it homophobic violence or the cute guy in Linguistics, cannot be replicated by a less-focused space,” Dever wrote.

Photo: LGBTQ Resource Center

One Comment on “Student leaders raise concern over potential consolidation of University safe spaces

  1. Consolidation makes sense for a number of reasons. Most importantly, there is always another group that requests space and other resources; a consolidated space can allow for outreach to a more diverse group of students and reduce the self-segregation that often occurs with the current model. Dever and other LGBT activists should not be afraid of greater contact with students from multicultural backgrounds, but treat it as an opportunity to broaden their horizons. Don’t fear diversity.

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